Sabah Covid-19 'hotspots' sealed off to reduce movement, exposure

  • Nation
  • Tuesday, 24 Mar 2020

KOTA KINABALU: Key Covid-19 "hotspots” in Sabah’s major towns are being sealed off in efforts to minimise movement amid a growing number of cases in these areas.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal (pic) said that several moves, including a near curtailment on the movement of people in certain areas of Kota Kinabalu, Tawau and Lahad Datu, were being implemented in light of an increasing number of viral infection cases.

Other measures include ordering certain plantations and factories in Lahad Datu and Kalabakan to shut following the detection of cases in the area as well as stopping barter trading between east coast Sabah and neighbouring Philippines and Indonesia.

He said the movement of people from the city’s Pulau Gaya, a ten-minute boat ride from here, where they have detected cases of people infected by the virus have also been curtailed.

“Only those working with essential services are allowed to come to the mainland. Medical teams are also carrying out checks for the people there, ” he told reporters after chairing the state National Security Council meeting on Covid-19 here Tuesday (March 24).

At least five plantations in the Lahad Datu area in the east coast have been ordered to stop operations to pluck oil palm fruit as "we are trying to stop contact of people in view of certain cases detected there".

As of noon Tuesday, Shafie said there were 171 positive cases of Covid-19 in the state with most of the cases in Lahad Datu, Kota Kinabalu and Tawau as compared to the other districts.

He said most of the cases were connected to the Seri Petaling gathering in Kuala Lumpur while the others involved a few from a group that had returned from Thailand.

On Sabahans who returned from the cancelled tabligh gathering in Sulawesi, he said that so far 17 have come back and another nine were expected back by Wednesday (March 25).

“Those who came back are being quarantined in Tawau and we will allow those still coming back to use the proper legal sea route into Tawau.

"We don’t want them to use 'jalan tikus' (backdoor entries) as they need to be kept under observation.

“The Indonesian side does not have quarantine facilities so we will do it in Tawau, ” he said, adding that those who went to Sulawesi were mainly from the Tawau, Beaufort and Papar districts of the state.

“This quarantine is for the greater good of the people. We are not taking any punitive action but want to ensure that people who could be exposed to the virus are screened, ” Shafie added.

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